updated 04:20 pm EDT, Tue August 28, 2007
Unlocking may boost iPhone
Unlocking the iPhone may not be as bad for Apple as some have speculated, and may have actually been part of CEO Steve Jobs' plan all along. Though the company reaps significant revenue from its partnership with AT&T and the associated cut of subscriber fees, its real objective is to evoke a sea change in the wireless industry and generate revenue by selling actual handsets -- something that unlocking mechanisms will do nothing to hamper, and may actually promote. A full-blown unlocking procedure could make the iPhone as ubiquitous overseas as it is in the U.S, potentially culminating in a huge sales surge for Apple. This could, in turn, result in a sustainable profit stream that far outweighs the money generated by AT&T subscriber fees. After all, Apple is a company that primarily subsists on hardware sales -- a model that it has embraced for all recent memory, and has paid off well.
A CNET article speculates "Steve Jobs is not a dumb man. He knew that by making the iPhone exclusive, he was losing out on a significant market of people both home and abroad and his vision for the future of Apple included those that were left out. But alas, the exclusivity deal wasn't that hard to swallow. He, like all of us, knew that people would immediately start to hack the iPhone and unlock it for use on T-Mobile and other services abroad. And once that happened, the benefits could far outweigh the costs of such a hack."
The iPhoneSIMfree.com team on Friday said they also had developed a software solution to use Apple's iPhone on any any carrier network, threatening to bypass AT&T's exclusive contract with Apple and enable the device for other carrier networks such as T-Mobile in US (and GSM networks in other countries).
Meanwhile, George Hotz, the soon-to-be college student from New Jersey who unlocked the iPhone for use on wireless carriers other than AT&T via a complex hardware method that involves soldering internal components and using a number of command line utilities, has traded the unlocked device for a Nissan 350Z and three 8GB iPhones.